Before the ashes and the anguish, before the 1965 riots and the spotlight of attention that followed, there was a pocket of people already fighting for Watts.
They fought for the arts and for the black community from a building on Grandee Avenue and 104th Street. It was there, in the community she was raised in, that Jayne Cortez founded the Watts Repertory Theater Company, an ensemble she used to unearth and highlight racial inequalities.
Cortez, a performance artist whose evocative, surreal poetry tackled racial and sexual oppression, died Dec. 28 of heart failure at a hospital in New York City, said her husband, Melvin Edwards. She was 78.
Wanda Coleman, long...